Monday, 7 November 2011

Book Review: Daphne - Justine Picardie

Synopsis - It is 1957. As Daphne du Maurier wanders alone through her remote mansion on the Cornish coast, she is haunted by thoughts of her failing marriage and the legendary heroine of her most famous novel, Rebecca, who now seems close at hand.  Seeking distraction, she becomes fascinated by Branwell, the reprobate brother of the Bronte sisters, and begins a correspondence with the enigmatic scholar Alex Symington in which truth and fiction combine.  Meanwhile in present day London, a lonely young woman struggles with her thesis on du Maurier and the Brontes and finds herself retreating from her distant husband into a fifty-year-old literary mystery...

Review - An interesting book running two parallel stories alongside one another.  The chapters run in cycles of three, with the first of these focussing on du Maurier's life and obsession or fascination with Branwell Bronte.  The second is given over to J Alex Symington who du Maurier engages in correspondence to both fact find and purchase some Bronte manuscripts.  The last of the three is set in present day London, the young student trying to write her thesis for her PHD.

There are some interesting facts about the du Maurier family and the search to uncover the mystery surrounding Branwell.  For me the fictional sub story running alongside was a slight distraction.  I suppose the author wanted the book to fit the fiction genre therefore allowing some artistic license but for me, it wasn't necessary.  I would have been happy with the life of Daphne and her research element alone.  However, it is well written throughout.  3*

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